A 45th Security Forces Squadron police officer recently helped save the life of a surfer after she was bit by a shark off of Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Officer Christy Kalicharan was patrolling Patrick SFB when she received a call about a shark attack.
“I was on patrol when I received a call from the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) about a shark bite incident at the Blockhouse Beach,” Kalicharan said.
Her quick assessment and response to the situation likely saved surfer Gretta Lowry’s life.
“I was the first officer on scene,” Kalicharan said. “I was waved down by two witnesses who said that there was someone bitten by a shark. I saw a woman laying down on a bench with a towel wrapped around her leg. There was blood all over the ground. She was very coherent, but you could tell she was in a lot of pain and looked very pale. She told me she was bitten by a shark.”
Lowry, a Cocoa Beach resident and mother of two, was bitten twice in the leg by a bull shark while paddling to shore.
“It was like running into a concrete wall,” Lowry told news site Space Coast Daily. “The shark bit me twice, once on the thigh and then on the calf. It all happened so fast, I never even saw the shark and didn’t have any time to react during the attack.”
Lowry was able to make it back to shore where two of her friends wrapped her leg in a towel. When Kalicharan arrived, Lowry could sense everything was going to be OK.
Kalicharan conversed with Lowry while she checked out her injuries, keeping her alert so she did not go into shock.
“I removed the towel to assess her wounds and determine how severe they were,” Kalicharan said. “I noticed her right inner calf had several lacerations, but the injury that was the most concerning was on her inner thigh, there was a very deep laceration that was bleeding profusely.”
Kalicharan credited her training with the 45 SFS for staying calm and applying emergency medical treatment while waiting for paramedics.
“I immediately applied a tourniquet to her leg and applied pressure with a towel to stabilize the bleeding until Patrick SFB and Brevard County EMS arrived,” Kalicharan said. “I told her it was going to hurt, but she took the pain like a champ.”
EMS arrived shortly after and transported her to Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne where she received several staples and stitches to her leg.
But Kalicharan’s job wasn’t done yet. Days later, the officer decided to check up on Lowry while she was in recovery.
“Officer Kalicharan reached out to me after I was released from the ER to check up on me,” Lowry said.
“It’s important to me that any type of victim I come across gets the full help and support they need,” Kalicharan explained. “I don’t just want to be a face they see once and then disappear; I want to be there for them after the fact so they can have that relationship with us here at Patrick.”
Lowry is expected to fully recover, and says the shark attack won’t stop her from surfing. She also had a message of gratitude for Kalicharan.
“I cannot express enough gratitude to her and all the first responders who helped me that day. She was my guardian angel that morning. Thank you, Officer Kalicharan, for saving my life.”